Classifieds 50% off, use promo code FBkpkPromo The Phuket News Kata Rocks The Phuket News Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort
The Phuket News World News
The Phuket News Phuket | Thailand | World | Business | Q&A | Weird World XML, RSS, Feed
The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News

North Korea’s elite are not the only ones who crave consumer goods

NORTH KOREA: North Korea’s use of its showcase capital city to promote an image of national success and prosperity has cemented Pyongyang’s reputation as a Potemkin Village boasting leisure facilities that amount to little more than “playgrounds for cadres.”


AFP

Saturday 1 October 2016, 10:00AM


There are increasing signs that Pyongyang’s political elite are not the only ones able to indulge a taste for consumer goods and a spot of rest and recreation. Photo: Ed Jones/AFP

Pyongyang has always been an exclusive city, and the 10 per cent of the 25 million population allowed to live there generally enjoy a lifestyle the vast majority of North Koreans can only dream of.

But there are increasing signs that the capital’s political elite are not the only ones able to indulge a taste for consumer goods and a spot of rest and recreation.

A closely monitored but tolerated grassroots capitalism, born out of a spirit of survivalist self-sufficiency that got many through the catastrophic failure of the state distribution system in the famine years of the mid-to-late 1990s, has given rise to a growing entrepreneurial class with disposable income and free time.

It emerged during the leadership of Kim Jong-Il, but has only begun to prosper under his son Kim Jong-Un who took power after his father died in 2011.

Its rise can be seen in Pyongyang in the number of mobile phone users, the growing fleets of taxis that ply the capital’s wide avenues and the splashes of street fashion among young women.

If the sort of genuine wealth that creates car owners is still limited to a tiny minority, it seems there is larger, aspirant middle class gaining a foothold in the capital and presumably other cities.

Some observers such as veteran North Korea watcher Andrei Lankov believe Kim Jong-Un wants to promote a style of “authoritarian capitalism” that allows room for private enterprise while maintaining absolute political control over its development.

The rewards for those who benefit from such a system include the ability to afford a meal at one of Pyongyang’s new restaurants or a family outing to watch a dolphin show.

Since taking over from his father, Mr Kim has pushed through a number of costly “leisure” projects that range in scale and ambition from theme parks to a swanky equestrian centre and ski resort.

This in a country where, according to the United Nations, 70pc of the population remains “food insecure” and cash-starved infrastructure leaves millions vulnerable to floods and drought.

For the North Korean leadership, the projects serve the dual purpose of projecting prosperity, while also catering to the elite and satisfying the aspirations of those with new-found disposable income.

And it clearly hopes the really high-end facilities, like the Masik Ski resort, will help bring in much-needed hard currency from increased tourism.

17th Architect and Engineering Exhibition 2017

A lower-end example is a Folk Park built just outside Pyongyang and opened three years ago.

With its full-size replica of a 5th century pagoda and scaled down representations of Pyongyang’s landmark monuments, it is similar to the sort of theme parks that proliferated in and around Chinese cities in the 1990s.

The entrance fee is low and the complex claims an average daily turnover of 5,000 visitors though nothing like that number was visible during a recent tour of the park.

But a fair number of families and couples strolled round the attractions, some taking smartphone pictures of each other posing before the exhibits.

More than two million North Koreans have signed up for the 3G network service operated by Egypt’s Orascom in partnership with North Korea’s Koryolink.

“Our respected Marshal Kim Jong-Un said we must make this park a great education site for the nation, and to raise people’s spirits,” intoned the official tour guide.

More up-market is the dolphinarium completed in Pyongyang in 2012 and fed by a specially constructed seawater pipeline from the port of Nampo.

While the Folk Park partly aims to educate, the dolphin show is wholly aimed at entertainment
And apart from a brief nod to Kim Jong-Un and a message of congratulation regarding the 70th birthday for the ruling Workers’ Party, it is also largely devoid of the political trappings that cling to so many aspects of North Korean public life.

But it is an entirely political project, originally devised by Kim Jong-Il and eventually realised by his son, with trainers selected from top universities and sent to China to learn how to handle the dolphins.

And the obviously high construction and running expenses again raise the issue of skewed priorities in a country where poverty runs so high.

The head of customer service at the dolphinarium, Jon Suk-Yong declines to reveal its daily operational cost.

“But the seawater is brought in through a 70-kilometer pipeline and we have 10 dolphins that each eat 10 kilos of fish every day, so you can imagine,” Jon said.

 

 

The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Comment on this story
* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.
Comments Here:
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:
    Forget your password?

Be the first to comment.

The Phuket News
The Phuket News The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Share this
The Phuket News
Have a news tip-off? Click here
The Phuket News
Related stories
The Phuket News
Phuket community

Recent Comments


Phuket officials to patrol Rawai pier to check for begging sea gypsy kids

What great enterprising kids! Excellent. Shows great initiative. They know where the money is and actively go out and get it. In 10 years time I'd...(Read More)


Tons of rubbish cleared in Phuket airport beach clean-up

Kurt, I quote the piece for your edification..."Near my property there are 2 very large signs in Thai." If the signs are in Thai, the logica...(Read More)


School director accused in ‘tea money’ scandal

Rorii the article is about not taking bribes. There is a probe to investigate that, in which case there can be no legal loop hole as you wrongly sugge...(Read More)


Tons of rubbish cleared in Phuket airport beach clean-up

Pauly44: That Jor12 is just challenging you to react on his illogical reaction. That is his trick. Write something what has actually nothing to do...(Read More)


Phuket officials to patrol Rawai pier to check for begging sea gypsy kids

Simon01: To be honest I never been approached by beggers in the streets of Patong. In Patong I only have been approached by doormen of sex clubs, rem...(Read More)


Phuket officials to patrol Rawai pier to check for begging sea gypsy kids

Why pick on the Sea Gypsies. There are hundreds of beggers on the streets of patong everyday and have been for years. Why not pick on them too as they...(Read More)


‘I was framed,’ school chief swears

Probably the school director is right. He was framed in a "well-organised plot". He was trapped. Oh oh. The fact is the bribe of 400,000 w...(Read More)


Phuket officials to patrol Rawai pier to check for begging sea gypsy kids

The real problems are very well expressed in this article. Now 'just' a good and working way to handle it, for the best future interest of th...(Read More)


Tons of rubbish cleared in Phuket airport beach clean-up

Jor 12; Yeah sure Thai's wouldn't do that, must be that pesky farang dumping building waste from his truck, are you for real?...(Read More)


Court upholds prison terms for Dutchman, Thai wife

Saltydog,what has a bridge to do with this article?...(Read More)

The Phuket News
Bangkok Hospital Phuket
PHUKET NEWS
Phuket
Thailand
World
Business
Q A
Weird World
ARCHIVE
POLL
CURRENCY
WEATHER
PHUKET TIDE TABLE
The Phuket News PHUKET LIFE
Phuket Arts
Phuket Community
Phuket Culture
Phuket Dining
Phuket Education
Phuket Entertainment
Phuket Environment
Phuket Health
Phuket People
Phuket Technology
Phuket Travel
Photo Galleries
COLOURING BOOK
The Phuket News PHUKET SPORT
Phuket
Thailand
World
SURF REPORT
PREDICTIONS
The Phuket News PHUKET CLASSIFIEDS
Phuket Buy and Sell
Phuket Jobs
Phuket Property
Phuket Cars and Boats
Phuket Community
Phuket Services
SEARCH CLASSIFIEDS
POST CLASSIFIED
The Phuket News The Phuket News PHUKET EVENTS
Phuket Event listings
Phuket Event calendar
Buy Tickets
POST EVENT
The Phuket News PHUKET DIRECTORY
Phuket Bars, pubs and clubs
Phuket Hotels and villas
Phuket Restaurants
Phuket Yellow Pages
POST LISTING
The Phuket News BARGAINS
The Phuket News ABOUT US
The Company
Distribution points
Subscribe
Advertise with us
Pay for advert
Contact us
CONTESTS
Content Google Map
Site map
Australian Visa Services
 
Currency - The Phuket News   Weather Report - The Phuket News   Surf Report - The Phuket News
LinkedIn - The Phuket News   Twitter - The Phuket News   YouTube - The Phuket News   Facebook - The Phuket News
Copyright © 2017 Class Act Media. All rights reserved. | Website usage terms and conditions | Privacy and Confidentiality Statement.